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Longtime Fire Service Leader Karl Ristow to Receive NFFF Glatfelter Distinguished Service Award

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) is recognizing Chief Karl Ristow, CFO, as the newest recipient of the organization’s Arthur J. Glatfelter Distinguished Service Award.

Chief Ristow, who currently serves as the Program Director for the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) program at the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE), is being recognized for his many and varied contributions to the NFFF, according to Troy Markel, Chairman of the NFFF Board Of Directors.

“Karl is a tireless advocate for the Foundation and the fire service in general,” Markel said. “His dedication sets the bar for the rest of us to follow.”

Chief Ristow became involved in the NFFF in 2007, when he served on the incident management team that developed and executed the memorial service and burials for nine Charleston, South Carolina firefighters killed while fighting a fire at the Super Sofa Store. Since then, as a volunteer, donor, and educator, Ristow has supported the NFFF in raising awareness and funds for its prevention and support missions.

Chief Ristow is second Chairman and National Coordinator for the NFFF Memorial Golf Tournaments program. In the five years that Chief Ristow has dedicated his time and energy, the tournaments have raised more than $1.7 million in support of the NFFF.

Along with his wife, Barbara, Chief Ristow volunteers for the Hal Bruno bereavement camps for the children of fallen firefighters, serving as Big Buddies, Healing Circle Assistants, and Floaters. The Ristow’s are also members of the NFFF Giving Circle, a group comprised of the Foundation’s most generous financial donors.

“Karl’s commitment to the fire and emergency service family is evident in both his accreditation work with the CPSE and his dedicated volunteering with the NFFF,” shared CPSE Chief Executive Officer, Preet Bassi. “Both organizations are lucky to have him as part of our teams.” Before joining CPSE, Chief Ristow served as Fire Chief for the St. John’s Fire District in South Carolina for 14 years and as a Resident Training Specialist for the South Carolina Fire Academy. Chief Ristow is a retired United States Air Force Fire Protection Supervisor. He holds a master’s degree in Management and Public Administration, a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, and associate degrees in Fire Science and Instructor of Technology and Military Science. He is also a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, a Chief Fire Officer Designee through the Commission on Professional Credentialing, and a Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers (MIFireE).

The NFFF created the Arthur J. Glatfelter Distinguished Service Award to recognize exceptional service to the NFFF by men and women who continue in support of Glatfelter’s legacy as a champion of the fire service. In 1969, Glatfelter created the Volunteer Fireman’s Insurance Services (VFIS), the first company of its kind to meet the insurance needs for firefighters. Glatfelter was also an enthusiastic advocate for the NFFF and its missions and served for many years on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Chief Ristow will be presented the Glatfelter Distinguished Service Award by Tony Campisi, Chairman of the Glatfelter Insurance Group, on March 22, 2022, during the opening session of the CPSE Excellence Conference in Orlando, FL. “Chief Ristow represents everything that Art Glatfelter stood for,” Campisi said. “We are grateful for leaders who carry the standard for the fire service, and it’s a privilege to present Chief Ristow with this award.”

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation was created by Congress in 1992 to honor and recognize firefighters who died in the line of duty each year. To meet this mandate, the Foundation reviews the circumstances of each firefighter fatality reported to determine whether the death also meets criteria for inclusion on the National Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The guidelines by which these determinations are governed can be found on our website. The NFFF is closely reviewing COVID-related deaths to determine eligibility for inclusion on the National Memorial.